Paula Deen is well-known for her butter-filled recipes and Southern charm. However, she is currently making headlines because she is in the middle of a discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit. While it may be hard to imagine Deen as anything but a kind woman with a love of all things fried, her empire is taking hit after hit. Last Friday, The Food Network announced its removal of Deen’s show after being on air for more than a decade and on Monday, Smithfield, the pork company, released a statement saying that Deen will no longer be its spokesperson.
Deen’s admittance to using racial slurs, as well as a highly edited apology video spurred The Food Network’s and Smithfield’s decisions. Public relations professionals everywhere are shaking their heads after Deen decided to skip out on an interview with The Today Show, and then quickly withdrew her apology video posted on YouTube.
Effective crisis communications requires a quick response in which genuine concern is expressed. It appears as though Deen didn’t get the memo as her initial response was premature and lacked sincere remorse. Adding fuel to the fire, Deen removed her hasty apology video, replaced it with another and missed her first opportunity to address the public on The Today Show.
It is hard to say whether or not Paula Deen will be able to overcome this PR nightmare, but one thing is for certain: Discrimination of any kind has the ability to destroy lives and reduce successful empires to rubble.Tagged crisis communications, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications, Paula Deen